The wren is just one of several Christmastime house-visiting traditions that continues in Newfoundland and Labrador today. Typically, children or adults will visit homes within their community carrying around an effigy of a small bird—the wren. Upon visiting a home, they usually recite a poem declaring the wren the “King of All Birds” and may offer some kind of performance, be it song, joke, or recitation. Often the host will offer up food, drink, or money for the visit. Unlike other house-visiting traditions, there are no disguises involved.
On December 14th, 2016, the final night of the 2016 Mummers Festival, festival coordinator Ryan Davis hosted a public forum on wren traditions at The Rooms. The forum starts with introductory remarks by Davis, and then folklorist and storyteller Dale Jarvis shares the legend of the wren, and moderates a discussion with Bev Kane of Renews and Dennis Flynn of Colliers, two people keep the wren alive in Newfoundland. Listen in, and learn about the history of the wren tradition and how it’s happening today.